A conservation easement, which includes historic preservation and open-space easements, is a legal land preservation agreement between a landowner and a governmental or non-profit conservation organization (land trust) that protects the conservation values of a property, through perpetual limits on future development of the land. The easement may also include special protections for historic, cultural, natural, scenic, or open-space resources on the property. Most often, landowners voluntarily donate easements and receive some federal or state tax benefits for their charitable gift. Every easement is unique. The terms and provisions are negotiated between the landowner and the holder of the easement. The easement is perpetual and binds all future owners of the property. Except for rights specifically relinquished in the easement deed, the landowner continues to own, use, and control the land. Donation of a conservation easement is a complex process. It requires consultation with legal and tax counsel to ensure compliance with State and Federal tax code and guidelines for conservation easements.
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